The sequel to the warmly-embraced Cesarina Ristorante, which celebrated its fourth anniversary this year, Elvira officially opens this Sunday, November 19 in Ocean Beach where the Roman osteria-meets-pizzeria reactivates the former Bo-Beau Kitchen + Bar space.
Lovingly renovated by Italian firm Limes Architetti, the new restaurant is a home away from home for Niccolò Angius and Cesarina Mezzoni, the Roman couple who operate both establishments with their partner Giuseppe Capasso. Named after Angius’ great-grandmother, Elvira is imbued with the Italian matriarch’s grit and generous spirit, with family photos decorating the walls and some of her recipes gracing the menu.
As its executive chef, co-owner Mezzoni has created a menu designed to introduce local diners to Roman food culture through homemade pasta classics like tonnarelli cacio e pepe and bucatini all’amatriciana and the crispy fried artichokes that are the sought-after specialty of Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood. Her family’s butcher shop, located in the famous square of Campo de’ Fiori, inspired the lamb “cotoletta” served with arugula, artichokes, shaved pecorino, and fresh mint.
The partners are also honoring Rome’s tradition of daily specials, or piatti del giorno, when certain days of the week are associated with specific dishes; Tuesdays are meatball day, fish is for Fridays, and Saturdays will feature the lesser-seen trippa alla romana, or braised tripe.
Elvira will also serve a reinterpretation of Roman-style pizza in teglia, or pan pizza, but in a round shape. Offered just at dinner to start, the wood-fired oven will be overseen by Palermo-born executive pizza chef Ignazio Tagliavia, whose years of pizza-making experience started at a private academy dedicated to the training of pizzaiolos.
Rather than offering wines by the glass, the restaurant is hewing to the osteria method of serving wine by the quarter, half, or full-liter carafe as well as bottles, with the wines sourced from the Lazio, Campagna, Abruzzo, and Marche regions of Italy. There are also local and Italian craft beers and cocktails highlighting Italian spirits and liqueurs, like the Carciofo made with scotch, Cynar, and bitters.
Launching in January will be the restaurant’s private dining experience called ‘Cucina di La Nonna’, which will be hosted in a room off the kitchen. With a separate fixed-price menu, the immersive dinners will aim to recreate the atmosphere of Elvira’s Italian kitchen at mealtimes.
Angius and Mezzoni, who’ve lived in Ocean Beach for the entirety of their time in San Diego, tell Eater that they’d like to open more restaurants in the Ocean Beach/Point Loma area. Angelo, the cheese-making and catering facility that they were originally going to launch across from Cesarina, is currently on hold but the couple says they will still be opening something in that space while searching for a different location for the Angelo project.
Elvira, 4996 W Point Loma Blvd, Ocean Beach. Dinner service starts 4:30 p.m. until the week of November 27. Regular hours will be Monday, Thursday, and Friday noon to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday noon to 9:30 p.m.